With this year’s Open Championship denied to golf fans all around the world due to Coronavirus, it may be second best, but looking back at Opens past, and savouring some of the most significant single golf shots – good and bad – to have adorned the world’s most prestigious ‘Major’ in living memory might help ease – if not altogether eradicate – withdrawal symptoms and pangs of ‘Wish I was there,’ syndrome.
So here’s a highly-subjective selection of some Misses to forget – in the absence of real, live Open golf. We started at number 5 where Adam Scott’s painful finish at Royal Lytham & St Annes gifted the Claret Jug to Ernie Els in 2012. His wait for a Major would finally end at Augusta.
We’ll work our way daily to top spot in the hall of shame!
#4 140th Open Championship, Royal St George’s, 14th – 17th July 2011
Not all Open Championships have been won – or lost – with spectacular missed putts as the world’s oldest and most prestigious golf tournaments reached its annual climax and it is not always the responsibility of just one man to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Veteran Irishman Darren Clarke has been in command throughout rounds two and three, but two big American beasts were poised on the fourth and final day. Both men, Phil Mickelson and rising star Dustin Johnson were pressing hard, ‘Lefty’ in particular set off his own special brand of pyrotechnics, five birdies in seven holes elevating the left-hander into a share of the lead with the Northern Irishman.
Arriving on the 11th green and a routine 3ft putt for par, Mickelson – one of the most assured operators in the game with putter in hand – rushed his stroke, missing the hole to his left, the ball horse-shoeing out for a bogey that not only halted ‘Lefty’s’ charge but blew it right off course, triggering a disastrous run of four ugly bogeys in six holes, out of contention, the American still without a Claret Jug to his name at that time.
Step forward DJ, Dustin Johnson, the bad boy of the PGA Tour, back then still in search of a maiden ‘Major’ and with a developing reputation for failing to deliver on the biggest stages, he reverted to type.
Johnson, playing with Clarke who was less than assured off the tee at the 14th was mounting a strong challenge; well placed off the tee, Johnson forced a 2-iron from the fairway in an effort to reach the green but he pushed it well right and out of bounds to end his chances with a double-bogey seven to fall four back and out of the hunt.
Two Americans, two chances, both blown in their own separate way, Mickelson slowly but surely undoing all his early good work, Johnson with one single reckless, overreaching, misjudged shot, leaving the way for the 42-year-old Darren Clarke – despite two inauspicious bogeys on the final two holes – to claim an unlikely and somewhat underwhelming and unsatisfactory conclusion to the 140th Open Championship.